Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Compass of God

"Marriage is about the certainty of an agreement... It's the most important contract you'll ever undertake..." ishmael paused long enough to look into the eyes of each of his daughters. "Your search for marriage isn't so much the present concern of a husband, but a promise for the future of your children, the future of our family, and the future of the Jewish people. Marriage is the great circle linking us together through all the generations of time, the beginning of a sacred agreement of posterity forged in this world and flowering through all of eternity. When all the judges of Judah are gone, when the kings have passed on, when the tax collectors, soldiers, captains,k and scribes of the Jews are no more, and the law of Moses is fulfilled, when all of us have passed from this life, in heaven family will replace the governments of men."

That passage is from the back of volume 5 of The Promised Land series by David G. Woolley.
Everyone knows that as far as I am concerned David could write the phone book and I would gush over it and find it riviting reading.  But to tell the truth I would much rather read one of his novels than the phone book and so it was with unbridled giddiness that ripped open my package from Deseret Book and barricaded myself in my room for what I knew would be pure reading heaven.

I wish it had happened that way- the ripping open of the package happened but I had to go to work so I had to wait five hours before the reading could begin and then I could only read a short amount because it was late and I had to get up early for the other job. Now, here was my dillema- it is always a dillema with David's books- do I read the entire book then the chapter notes, or the chapter then the notes then the next chapter then the notes, etc, or the chapter notes then the book?  I just never know and have done it all those ways because if you don't read the chapter notes you really miss out on a wealth of information.  I can only imagine the wealth of knowledge bouncing around in David's head.  I am glad that he uses chapter notes to give us valuable background and knowledge to  help understand the culture and other nuances of the story instead of the boring info dump so many authors use that pull you out of the story.

I am also really glad that I don't have to know all of that background stuff to know that the gospel, or the scriptures are true or that Heavenly Father answers our prayers, because if I had to know all of that, I would be in serious trouble.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, the long awaited Volume 5, I won't turn this into the long awaited review of volume 5.

I loved this installment as much as the others. However, this volume is a bit different than the other volumes. In books 1-4 there was a lot of political stuff going on and the love relationships were a side note, background to the main stories of intrigue and upheavals going in the world of Lehi and his family. This book however finds the intrigue and upheaval taking a background setting as the romance of relationships takes center stage. We become better aquainted with Ishmael and his daughters- will their betrothed ever return to marry them, or will the girls find love elsewhere?

Of course, having read the Book of Mormon many times I knew the answer to that, but how it would happen is what interested me. And I was not disappointed. I have felt all the emotions, worries, stress, doubt that the daughters felt. I identified at different times with all of them. And found each and every story written in wonderful, descriptive, emotive language. I was equally sad, happy, confused, scared along with them. But I was most moved by Elizabeth's story. I wondered how exactly David would write this part of the story, how he would make it what it should be. The scene where Elizabeth was done picking apples and walking home truly brought tears to my eyes. It could have been cliche and silly, but it wasn't- it was perfect, like coming home, comfortable and right. And I wouldn't change a thing about it.

Nora- I think I disliked her throughout most of the novel.  I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her and I wondered how her story would play out since it did not appear that she was headed in the right direction. But toward the end of the book I began to understand her a bit more and by the end I even felt a kinship with her. I think that in her case my favorite Dr. Phil saying would apply to her-- "Sometimes you make the right decision, and sometimes you make the decision right"

If I could change one thing about this volume it would be the length. I felt the last chapter was a bit condensed and rushed. But something I can live with if it means volume six is not far away. Let''s get this family to the Land of Promise.

And something good about the long wait in between books? I get to reread them all so I am fresh with the story.

Thank you, David, for this story.



David G. Woolley said...

I've never really compared my novels with the phone book. I guess I really should cut back on the number of characters in this EPIC format. Is that what you're trying to say here?

Really happy you enjoyed Elizabeth's story. And hope that Abigail, Hannah, and Mary were likeable too. And I'm really happy that Nora got on your nerves. She sort of is the dominant sister, and also the dominant character among all the romances going on here, there, and everywhere. I toyed around with the title: Seven Brides for Seven Nomads, but I figured Sarah was still too young for romance right now.

So which did you choose? The historical notes first? The Whole Book first? Or one chapter of each?

Thanks for the review. You are a prolific reader WHO REMEMBERS EVERY DETAILS. Wow.

Sandra said...

Didn't mean to compare your novels to the phone book, just that you could take something boring and mundane and make it wonderful. And if you cut back on characters, you would you cut? So don't you dare leave anyone behind.

Abigail, Hannah and Mary are perfect. And I loved all of their reactions as well- they were perfect but Elizabeth's just touched me.

I choose to read a few chapters then the notes for those chapters then a few more chapters, the notes...

It was annoying to me because between 2 jobs and the kids I was having to cram my reading into stolen moments when I just wanted to sit and read